Reclaiming power and place
Beyond the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
August 11, 2021
Monday, August 9, was the Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day created by the United Nations to draw attention to the strengths and contributions of Indigenous individuals and communities while simultaneously highlighting the significant obstacles they face.
In Canada, where I live, there is a nascent awareness, understanding, and acknowledgement of how systemic racism negatively impacts the health, safety, well-being, and overall quality of life of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) exposed the devastating history and ever-present legacy of the Indian residential school system (which I wrote about here in July 2021).
Soon after, in 2016, the federal government launched a three-year National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Like the TRC, the National Inquiry was an important step towards justice, but it is just that: a step. So much more is required.
In this issue of The Weekly, I invite you to meet some of the advocates and artists who are bringing the stories of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people forward; creating new resources, and demanding change.
Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls lists 231 Calls for Justice, and tasks the Government of Canada with developing a National Action Plan to address the crisis.
Organizations like the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) have continued to build on the work initiated by the Inquiry. In June 2021, for example, the association launched Safe Passage, an interactive online map that documents where cases of systemic violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people have occurred.
In 2016, singer-songwriter Amanda Rheume, who is Métis, released the song “Red Dress” on her album Holding Patterns. Proceeds from the song—which she wrote to honour the “1180 Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada and raise awareness for this tragic and ongoing issue”—were donated to NWAC.
The song and the accompanying video, featuring Mi’kmaq dancer Aria Evans, were inspired by The REDRess Project by Métis visual artist Jaime Black. (Do you have two minutes? There is a powerful video about the installation on the project’s web page.)
You can support NWAC, like Amanda Rheume, or one of the many other organizations addressing violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people, including:
Before you go
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Coming up next:
Sifting, shifting, and lifting with . . . poet Fran Westwood (August 15, 2021)
The Weekly (August 18, 2021)
Did you miss an issue?
Here are the links to the last two issues (just in case):
Sifting, shifting, and lifting with . . . musician, painter, and educator Natalia Zukerman (August 8, 2021)
The Weekly on conversion therapy (August 4, 2021)